Road to Recovery in the USVI
HUD Recovery Team partnered with FEMA to present 2-day Capacity Building and Grant writing workshops for the nonprofit and faith-based organizations working in St. Croix and St Thomas, USVI.
The trainings demystified the grant writing process by leveling the playing field for all attendees. It provided better clarity how to leverage resources and properly apply for federal, state, local public/private funding that can be used to enhance, housing, community and human development opportunities.
The St. Thomas event, led by Management Analyst Crystal Jones-Taylor, was held on June 27 and 28, and attended by 65 representatives from local organizations. The St Croix event, led by Anne Davis, Sr. Management Analyst in the Richmond Field Office, was held on June 28 and 29, with 40 attendees.
Both trainings discussed critical business management issues for faith-based and nonprofit groups designed to improve competitive position for grant funding; also included grants research, outcomes planning and reporting, sustainability strategies, factors for awards and application basics.
There were several hands-on exercises, as well as guest presenters from FEMA Leadership and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Agency who discussed FEMA's role in the recovery effort, local program funding development and management of the CDBG and CDBG-DR programs. Andrea Shillingford, Catholic Charities Executive Director was also present in the St. Thomas activity to discuss their use of the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) Program; she shared a "Real World" example of how effective planning, partnering, quality implementation and service delivery makes the difference in administering federal grant funding.
The activities had an applied learning, "hands-on" experience that took participants out of their comfort zone and allowed to work and network in smaller unfamiliar working groups. This approach encouraged attendees to actively engage organizations and individuals that they have never worked with before. The dynamic of this approach fostered networking opportunities and partnership development.
According to St. Thomas participant evaluations, attendees expressed that they most enjoyed working collaboratively in the small group setting with diverse agencies. The "Science of Building and Writing Grants" exercise allowed the groups to develop a proposal for a Notification of Funding Availability homework assignment and reported out as a group.